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socrateaser, Attorney
Category: Business Law
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Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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In Los Angeles, California, is it better for an individual

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In Los Angeles, California, is it better for an individual plaintiff to file a lawsuit against a large corporation in Federal District Court or California State Superior Court?

In other words, which court is an individual plaintiff more likely to succeed and why?

The case involves wrongful loss of a contract which had been held for 17 years and the violation of trade secrecy regarding information which was used by the plaintiff’s foreman, to whom the contract was given by the corporation in question, after he was awarded the contract.

I need a truly experienced answer on this question. Someone who truly knows the real world answer; not just an academic response.


Dr. Steve Sayre

In Los Angeles, California, is it better for an individual plaintiff to file a lawsuit against a large corporation in Federal District Court or California State Superior Court?


A: Many cases cannot be filed in federal court. To file, the subject matter of the lawsuit must either bebased upon federal law, or the defendant must not be domiciled in California (assuming that the plaintiff "is" domiciled in California), and the amount in controversey, exclusive of fees and cost must exceed $75,000.


A corporation is domiciled either in its state of incorporation or at its principal place of business.


That said, in my view, a federal court is a better place to conduct a lawsuit, primarily because (1) the judges are generally more competent, (2) the jury pool is better, because the juror fees are higher, (3) the federal rules of civil procedure are "cleaner" than the California rules, which makes the entire case, from discovery through trial and appeal, less burdensome to handle. However, these factors do not necessarily translate into lower litigation costs, because attorneys who appear in federal court generally charge more for their time.


Also, federal courthouses are a lot nicer than L.A. Superior Court, generally speaking.


Hope this helps.


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Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Thank you for your response. In regard to the issues, there is an issue of the statute of limitations argument having to be argued. Is there any difference as to the probability of winning this argument in state versus federal court?



A federal court sitting in California must use California substantive law to determine whether or not a claim is time barred. In general, this suggests that both federal and state determinations would be identical. However, I can envision the possibility of an issue related to service of summons or date of filing of the complaint having a different outcome in federal in state court.


So, I cannot be entirely definitive, because I would need to know all the case facts related to this issue, and conduct a fair amount of legal research.


That sort of inquiry is outside the scope of this forum.

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